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North Korea looms over Obama's meeting with South Korean president

May 07, 2013|By Christi Parsons
  • South Korean President Park Geun-hye tours the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye tours the Korean War Veterans Memorial… (Yonhap / EPA )

WASHINGTON -- The North Korean security threat will be at the top of the agenda Tuesday when President Obama meets with the new South Korean president in the Oval Office.

It marks the first visit of Park Geun-hye since her election this winter and comes as North Korea’s neighbors are trying to figure out the regime’s next move in its nuclear program.

South Korea’s first female president, Park took office in February just two weeks after North Korea conducted its most recent nuclear test. Her visit to Washington coincides with the 60th anniversary of the alliance between the U.S. and South Korea.

Advisors to Obama say North Korea will loom large over the discussions with the South Korean leader. Obama and Park must show a united front, said Daniel Russel, the White House senior director for Asia affairs.

PHOTOS: The North Korean threat

“Solidarity on North Korea is going to be the hallmark of this meeting,” he said.

In an interview with CBS News on Monday, Park said she wants to put an end to North Korea’s “vicious cycle” of threatening the region and then offering to negotiate.

Asked if a small-scale attack by North Korea would merit a military response from South Korea, Park said, “Yes, we will make them pay.”

After a meeting in the Oval office and a working lunch with the larger delegation, Obama and Park are scheduled to take questions from reporters in a joint news conference.

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christi.parsons@latimes.com

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